This past week we caught a glimpse of Lufthansa’s first Boeing 777-9X. Although it’s the first for Lufthansa, it marks the third airworthy airframe made by Boeing of the new model. Spotted by AirlineGeeks at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, the engine-less aircraft has the designation WH003.
For avid aircraft spotters, this marks the second development in the Boeing 777-9X program within the span of two weeks. In fact, on May 29th Boeing’s first 777-9X test vehicle, WH001 (to be registered as N779XW) was seen performing its initial engine start-up.
Trailing cone is attached to 777-9 WH001, taxi tests appear to be imminent pic.twitter.com/IX1h1zy8BL
— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) May 31, 2019
The European launch customer
With the announcement made far back in November 2013, we know that Lufthansa is the European launch customer for the Boeing 777X. Lufthansa was also the launch customer of the Boeing 737, and more recently the new 747-8 Intercontinental.
“Lufthansa and Boeing share a strong partnerships of innovation and a tradition of launching new airplane programs together,” the article states.
777-9 WH003 in the 40-23 inside the Everett factory. Next door, in the 40-24, are WH004 and the 777-9 fatigue test frame WY987 pic.twitter.com/hH8UG5Yprc
— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) May 2, 2019
“With the selection of the modern and highly efficient Boeing 777X for its long-haul fleet, Lufthansa will once again be a launch customer for a new Boeing aircraft program.” – Boeing Press Release
“We think it will be an ideal fit for long-haul destinations in North America and Europe, in particular those routes where we carry high volumes of passengers and cargo each day.” -John Slosar, Chief Executive, Cathay Pacific Airways
A brand new cabin
Lufthansa is touting the features of its 777X cabin on its website and social media. The Boeing 777-9 will offer a much wider cabin in comparison to its predecessors. In the new Business Class, the extra space will “further enhance passenger comfort” as those flying the new Business Class will have direct access to the aisle from any seat.
“Delivery of [the] Boeing 777-9 with our new Business Class will be a special highlight in 2020. We are planning to base the first B777-9 in Frankfurt,” said Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Group.
Delays to the program
However, reporting by CH-Aviation suggests that Lufthansa is anticipating a delay to the Boeing 777X program. We wrote earlier this month about how Boeing was hoping to show off the aircraft at the Paris Air Show. Unfortunately, several factors are hindering the reveal of the new model. One of these factors is the diversion of resources towards the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.
We also wrote earlier this month about delays spawning from issues relating to the 777X’s GE9X engines. Boeing was experiencing testing glitches with the engines. This is in addition to assembly delays on the engine as well as the plane’s carbon-composite wings.
According to the latest news, a 777X test-flight could take place as early as June 26th. However, Boeing’s Chief Executive, Dennis Muilenburg warned that it could be as late as the beginning of July before a flight test would take place.
Delays and unforeseen issues seem par for the course when it comes to new aircraft. With so much at stake, most passengers (perhaps not shareholders) will be more than happy to allow Boeing and the FAA all the time necessary to ensure that this new jet is safe to fly.
We will just have to wait and see when this brand new aircraft will take to the skies. We’ll let you know when it happens! Will you be making any special trips to fly on Lufthansa’s new 777X when it enters service? Let us know by leaving a comment!